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What to do in Istanbul - Top 7 alternative ideas

15th January 2014


When we imagine Istanbul, we think about the tremendous sightseeing hotspots, the blue mosque, the grand bazaar and Topkapi Palace. As well as the vast history and the amazing way the various cultures mix in this city.

This astonishing place has so much to offer and here are some alternative ideas about what to see and do in Istanbul. 

Go to the Opera/Ballet

Istanbul’s Opera scene offers audiences a real musical feast. Even if you have never been before, going to an Opera in Istanbul can be a spectacular and gripping event. The historical venues serve as stunning backdrops to the extravagant costumes and theatrics.

Many people visit Istanbul in particular just for Opera and Ballet alone, signifying a real growing interest in the arts here.

For up and coming classical music events please see events in Istanbul

Visit the art galleries

For art lovers and enthusiasts you will have a treat in Istanbul. Istanbul's art venues range from tiny, quirky galleries to expansive exhibitions and glamorous party spots here's where to see the city's coolest contemporary artists at work

There are many galleries to visit including;

Istanbul Modern - located in Karaköy on the European side

Galeri Manâ - located in Tophane on the European side

Pera Museum - located in Tepebaşı - Beyoğlu on the European side

Take a cruise along the Bosphorus 

Explore the magnificent scenic shores of the Bosphorus and explore Istanbul from the waterside. The boat cruises are not to be missed. Sights along the Bosphorus banks include Istanbul’s ornate palaces, Rumeli Fortress, Bosphorus Bridge the waterfront mansions. These homes are the most impressive and dominant shoreline landmarks. Built during the Ottoman Empire. The present day yalis of the Bosphorus date from the 18th, 19th and 20th century, making them an important part of history in the area.

There are many private companies that offer Bosphorus tours and two official public ferry companies - Şehir Hatları & IDO. 

The official companies are inexpensive.

You can take various Bosphorus tours: Short Circle Bosphorus Cruise, Full Bosphorus Cruise and Full Bosphorus Cruise by Night.

 Go for a ride on Istanbul’s Nostalgic Tram

The Nostalgic Tram which runs up and down Istiklal Caddesi, Taksim will take you on a journey back in time with the bright red trams following an enjoying route through Istiklal Street from Tunel square to Taksim square. 

The trams and the ticket collector’s costumes are styled in the original 1900s design.

The trams operate every 20 minutes from 07:00 to 22:45 (starts 07:30 on Sundays).

And for the little ones....

Istanbul is a family friendly city. With exciting theme parks and spectacular aquariums you mite find yourself saying that ‘the children were just an excuse to go; the child attractions were fantastic! And for the little ones 

Vialand Theme Park  

Istanbul is home to the only Theme Park in Turkey - Vialand!. Newly opened in 2013, Turkey's first international mega theme park – located in Eyüp, the heart of Istanbul is the size of almost 100 football fields. This wonderful fairy-tale world for adults and children alike, is a fun packed theme park which has it all, a castle, rides, shopping, light & water shows, fairground games and much more.
visit website

Ticket prices - Adults 55tl children 44tl

Istanbul Toy Museum

The Toy Museum located in Goztepe on the Asian side of Istanbul, hosts more than 4000 toys acquired over a 20-year collection. 

Antique toys from all over the world are on display, dolls in period attire to dollhouse, steam trains, ships, classic cars and musical instruments, all set in a five floor historical villa. Each room in the Toy Museum is decorated as a theatre stage and every room is different.

Admission fees: Adults 10tl, students 7tl, child FREE

Open 6 days a week 9.30 – 18.00 (closed on Mondays)

Visit Istanbul’s Turkuazoo Aquarium

Forum Shopping mall located in Bayrampaşa on the European side of Istanbul is home to Istanbul’s largest aquarium

Turkuazoo, the first giant aquarium in Turkey, is the perfect place for families who want to spend fun and quality time together.

You will see life under water and witness the wide rang of marine life including sharks! As well as observe giant stingrays, groupers, piranhas and octopi. It boasts 43 different exhibits, the largest of which holds 4,5 million liters of water.

You can witness this all as you travel through the walkway of the 80 meter long underwater tunnel, you will feel like your walking on the ocean floor.

Adults : 32,00-TL Ages 3 to 16 : 24,00-TL Ages 0 to 3 : Free


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